Golf and Cruise in the Caribbean: The perfect golf break

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TG Courses editor Kevin Brown reflects on his time sailing on a Caribbean cruise, and why turning it in to a golf trip was his best idea yet...

It was a week of firsts for me aboard P&O Cruises’ jaw-dropping five star floating hotel Azura; my first cruise, and my first experience playing golf in the Caribbean.

The P&O cruise itself is reasonably priced and offers day trips to the breathtaking locations of several Caribbean islands. I was sold on the idea of the holiday alone, but decided to take the opportunity to turn it in to a golf retreat of my own making. 

It was a trip that far exceeeded the high expectations I had as we sailed from Antigua to Barbados, and I came away with the certainty I've discovered a golf break with a difference... Cruise & Golf, an ideal break for couples and groups. And why not, it ticks all the boxes: world class courses, plenty else to do, and a virtual guarantee that sun will be shining down on you wherever you go. 

We boarded the enormous vessel in Antigua for the second leg of the cruise, stopping off in St Lucia, Grenada, St Vincent and finally Barbados over the course of six days. On those days I played two courses (I could have played a couple more), relaxed on the beaches of St Lucia and watched the West Indies play cricket in Barbados - not a bad start to the year. You can either take your own clubs - there's plenty of room on board - or hire them locally, probably the easiest, less stressful option....

Cedar Valley, Antigua

We joined the cruise in Antigua, but not before we stopped off for my first golfing port of call at Cedar Valley. It's the island's only 18-hole course, and just happens to be the home course of West Indian cricket legend Sir Viv Richards, who we bumped in to mid-round. He loves golf as much as, if not more, than cricket these days… 

As for the course, Cedar Valley was the perfect start to our trip. It is a rolling parkland layout with small greens, a decent variety of holes and overall provides solid holiday golf entertainment along with gorgeous views from the spectacular elevated tee at the long par-3 13th.

St Lucia 

My day in St Lucia was spent relaxing on a beach underneath the iconic peaks of the Pitons, though if I'd been on the cruise later in the year I'd definitely have made a trip to the eagerly-awaited opening of Greg Norman’s refurbished par-71 Sandals course.

The resort course, which is set to open in July 2019, will join the nine-hole course that is currently open to visitors and will feature sprawling greens, ponds and lush foliage. Find out more here.  The course has a scenic Bahamas counterpart too, designed by Norman, named the Sandals Emerald Bay, which is set along the coastline. If it's anything to go by, the course in St. Lucia will be one not to miss. 

Grenada Golf & Country Club, Grenada

When stopped off in Grenada, I set out on my second golfing outing to the nine-holer at Grenada Golf & Country Club.

It was plotted on a hill just off the Grand Anse main road, and despite not being as grand as the name suggests, it was still well worth getting off the boat for. 

I was joined by TV presenter, keen golfer and cruise regular Jonny Wilkes for my second round of golf, who shared with me why he'd made cruising and golfing a regular holiday. 

He stresses: “I’ve played a lot of Caribbean courses whilst cruising though I’ve yet to play in Barbados because of the timings but there are some brilliant courses there.

"It’s a great opportunity for people to combine great travel with golf in paradise before getting back on board, having a lovely dinner and catching a show or whatever afterwards. Where else can you do that? I don’t think it gets much better than that to be honest.”

He's got a point, and P&O’s “This is the Life” TV commercial starring comedian Rob Brydon hits the nail squarely on the head: It’s a special, wonderful adventure and experience.

Honestly, you’ll seriously struggle to beat serenely gliding across the Caribbean and benefitting from super service, accommodation, classy cuisine, and activities with the facilities on board being top drawer. Speaking of facilities, did we mention there’s even a mini singular driving range bay right at the top of the ship with clubs and balls on the top deck so you can keep swinging at sea?

Barbados

On our final day, we had tickets for the England v West Indies Test match at Bridgetown on so had to forego our chance at teeing it up in Barbados (Royal Westmoreland, Sandy Lane or Barbados GC).

It was a decision I'd come to regret after seeing the tourists taking such a beating, but it's a list of courses that are definitely on my list for next time...

Azura in numbers

115,055 Tons
3,100 Guests
1,250 Crew
290 m Long
1549 guest cabins

Try it yourself…

Deal 1: Caribbean, 14 nights, £1,403pp

P&O Cruises is offering a 14 night cruise on Azura from £1,403 per person for an inside cabin. Departing November 1, 2019 the price includes flights from selected UK airports, kids' clubs, full board meals and entertainment on board.

Departing from and returning to Barbados ports of call are St Vincent, St. Kitts, St. Maarten, Grand Turk, Tortola, Antigua, St. Lucia and Grenada.

To book. Call 03453 555 111, visit www.pocruises.com or visit your local travel agent. Link: http://www.pocruises.com/a001a 

(golf not included)

Deal 2: Caribbean, 14 nights, £1,489pp

P&O Cruises is offering a 14 night cruise on Azura from £1,489 per person for an inside cabin. Departing Jan 11, 2020 the price includes flights from selected UK airports kids' clubs, full board meals and entertainment on board.

Departing from and returning to Barbados ports of call are St Vincent, St. Kitts, St. Maarten, Grand Turk, Tortola, Antigua, St. Lucia and Grenada.

To book. Call 03453 555 111, visit www.pocruises.com or visit your local travel agent.

Link: http://www.pocruises.com/a001a

(golf not included)